SOLDIER’S DE­SCENT INTO EVIL

Vic­tim’s fam­ily be­lieves jus­tice has been served

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CHRISTIE AN­DER­SON christie. an­der­son@ news. com. au

CON­VICTED mur­derer Ky­nan Wat­ego Devenna went from a soldier serv­ing his coun­try to a cold- blooded killer.

Devenna, who had no crim­i­nal history be­fore his mur­der con­vic­tion, was yesterday sen­tenced to life in jail for the hor­rific killing of his for­mer part­ner and the mother of his two young chil­dren, Sarah­jane Dower.

In 2009, Devenna’s life was thrown into tur­moil when he wit­nessed the death of friend and col­league Ben­jamin Renaudo in an ex­plo­sion while de­ployed to Afghanistan.

Six years later, his vic­tim’s fam­ily watched in Townsville’s Supreme Court as Dev- enna was told he would spend the rest of his life be­hind bars.

Ms Dower’s mother Ap­polo­nia McDon­nell yesterday told the Bul­letin that while she felt jus­tice had been served, noth­ing could take away the pain of los­ing a daugh­ter at the hands of a killer.

“It’s al­ways go­ing to be there and I’m al­ways go­ing to be remembering Sarah,” Mrs McDon­nell said.

“It’s not easy los­ing your child through that and the way he got rid of her, it’s just so hard to com­pre­hend.”

“I told her to move up to Cairns and be with us and she kept say­ing ‘ Mum I’ll be there in Oc­to­ber’ but then she was killed in Septem­ber.”

Af­ter the death of his col­league in Afghanistan, Devenna was dis­charged from the army and ad­mit­ted to hospi- tal. He even­tu­ally sought the help of a psy­chi­a­trist and was put on med­i­ca­tion.

But Devenna couldn’t es­cape the night­mares and flash­backs filled with ex­plo­sions, dis­mem­bered bod­ies and the faces of sol­diers.

De­fence Bar­ris­ter Har­vey Wal­ters told the court Devenna was di­ag­nosed with post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der and saw a psy­chol­o­gist 42 times

be­tween Novem­ber 2009 and Septem­ber 2010.

“He thought he could smell burn­ing flesh and he was find­ing his sit­u­a­tion more and more dif­fi­cult to cope,” Mr Wal­ters said. “I hope that helps and as­sists the fam­ily with what has hap­pened to my client, in a psy­chi­atric and psy­cho­log­i­cal sense, lead­ing on to the ter­ri­bly tragic end of what should have been two par­ents en­joy­ing their chil­dren for the rest of their life.”

Devenna served in the army for five years and was a ri­fle­man with 1RAR, his mother Fay Devenna told the court in the trial this week.

His first de­ploy­ment was to East Ti­mor, and it was at this time his re­la­tion­ship with Ms Dower soured. The court was told Devenna re­turned to Aus­tralia to find Ms Dower had fallen preg­nant to another man, taken his car and spent his de­ploy­ment money.

Mr Wal­ters said while in East Ti­mor, his client was ex­posed to bru­tal vi­o­lence.

“His unit’s role was to sup­press the gang vi­o­lence,” he said. “One was of­ten ex­posed to quite vi­o­lent acts be­ing per­pe­trated by the gangs.”

Po­lice record­ings of Devenna’s con­fes­sion showed Ms Dower’s ower’s de­ci­sion to meet with him alone would seal her fate.

“If she had turned up … with some­one in the car it prob­a­bly wouldn’t have hap­pened,” Devenna told po­lice.

Devenna cleaned up the mur­der scene so well that the first time a foren­sic team vis­ited the home they couldn’t find any traces of blood. He main­tained he killed Ms

Dower for thet sake of their chil­dren be-b cause he be­lieved she was ne­glect­ing them.

Ms Dower’s sons are now nine and 12 and liv­ing with her par­ents. Her step­fa­ther John McDon­nell said:

“They know, they un­der­stand but they don’t know the grue­some de­tails.

“The im­por­tant thing is they are do­ing well.”

Main Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

GRIEV­ING: The fam­ily of Sarah­jane Dower ( inset right), sis­ters Re­becca Gubal­ane, Marissa Gubal­ane, par­ents Ap­polo­nia and John McDon­nell, and sis­ter Jen­nifer Gubal­ane, out­side court af­ter the life sen­tence for mur­derer Ky­nan Wat­ego Devenna ( far left) was handed down yesterday.

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